Credia Umuhire Ruzigana, the co-founder of Imanzi Creations, a firm that creates inspiring stories for children and Rwandan youth, is raising the Rwandan flag high. She recently emerged as the winner of one of the categories of the business competition for women across Africa. The Awa Prize which celebrates the work of women who have a positive impact on their communities through their business was organised by Enabel, a Government Agency in Belgium, last year. When Ruzigana heard about the opportunity, she applied right away when the applications opened in October 2022. “A pre-selection was done in November where businesswomen pitched their businesses and in the same month, interviews with the committee commenced. Those who succeeded, went into the last step with the final jury, and the announcement of the first four in each category was confirmed in January,” she said. In all the 2,400 entries from 16 countries, the Belgian Development Cooperation chose 12 winners, in four categories – Start-up, Scale-up, Innovation and a People’s Choice Prize. The four winners were from Morocco, Mali, Rwanda, and Burundi. They received their prizes at the official ceremony in the attendance of her majesty, Mathilde Marie Christine, the Queen of Belgium and the Minister of Development Cooperation and Major Cities, Caroline Gennez. Ruzigana was awarded the Awa Prize in the Scale-Up category, Aminata Simpara from Mali in Start-Up category, Rim Machhour from Morocco in Innovation category, and Kathia Iradukunda from Burundi, in People’s Choice Prize. In every category, three entrepreneurs received first, second, and third prizes, respectively. The first prize included €50,000 to cater for support, or coaching based on a company’s need, and a one week stay in Belgium to meet entrepreneurs and inspire one another. Ruzigana was honored to meet the Queen of Belgium. “We got ample time for conversation and I was surprised that the Queen not only knew me, but was aware of what Imanzi Creations does. She asked each of the winners a question tailored to their business and the challenges we encounter. She was genuinely interested.” The competition was full of lessons since there were different countries with diverse businesses. “We sought solutions to challenges we face back home after hearing from other entrepreneurs.” Her win has already started opening doors for her firm through networking. She was able to meet clients and future partners, and she believes that the prize will assist her company to grow and reach many beneficiaries, satisfy her customers – locally and in the diaspora. The businesswoman also anticipates tapping into opportunities in international markets. “It’s safe to say that this is the beginning for Imanzi Creations to show our capabilities.” ALSO READ: How young authors are bringing Rwandan characters to life The Awa Prize is likely to happen annually and 12 entrepreneurs from the Belgian Development Cooperation will be expected to be awarded a prize. The Start-Up category consists of companies that have been in existence for less than three years. Scale-Up has companies older than three years; Innovation has firms that invent through their products or services, and the last category, People’s Choice, has people voting for the winner.